Dubai: Citi May Need More Cash

 

S.W.F.’s differ over bank investments. 
Asked about the billions of dollars invested in Citigroup by rival sovereign wealth funds and Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, Sameer al-Ansari, the British-educated chief executive of Dubai International Capital, told a private equity conference in Dubai today: “It’s going to take more than that to rescue Citi.”

Al-Ansari’s comments will be taken as another indication of investors’ lack of confidence in Citigroup’s efforts to turn itself around. Charles Gasparino on CNBC is reporting that the bank, under its new chief executive Vikram Pandit, may cut another 30,000 jobs over the next year and a half because of additional write-downs on investments tied to subprime mortgages.

But Dubai International Capital has its own investing strategy when it comes to banks. It has taken a sizable stake in Citigroup’s global rival, HSBC of Britain, and a small slice of ICICI Bank, one of India’s largest. It also has a 9.9 percent share of Och-Ziff Capital Management, the publicly traded American hedge fund company.

Al-Ansari is implicitly criticizing Citigroup’s new investors, which include the neighboring Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which took a 4.9 percent stake in Citi for $7.5 billion.

And that is a very healthy thing.

Signs of competition and different investment approaches among the giant sovereign wealth funds will help demystify them and possibly ease concerns among some U.S. lawmakers that there is a hidden geopolitical agenda rather than a purely return-driven one.

Dubai International, which has some $13 billion in assets, is the private equity arm of Dubai Holding, which is owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. It and other Persian Gulf funds have hundreds of billions of dollars in cash because of the long, steep climb in oil prices.

In another respect, Dubai International is acting like a very conventional Western investor. Flush with success, it now wants to buy a sports team. The fund has reportedly been in talks to buy 50 percent of Liverpool Football Club, soccer champions of England 18 times, from its American owners for nearly $400 million.

It turns out that al-Ansari, having studied at Liverpool University School of Law, is a big fan of the Reds. With billions of dollars at your disposal, you will never walk alone.

 

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